In its second issue, Eternal Warrior veers toward a revamped Highlander premise, which I probably should have expected, given the title, and while I’m sure as shit still diggin’ it, this issue does feel a bit more formulaic than its virgin voyage. It’s certainly not the barbarian book I took it for at its outset, and there are some truly fresh aspects of this book; however, based on where I see its direction heading, its effervescent shock-of-the-new could also easily - and quite quickly - begin to go flat. The setup here introduces a new player within the still-nascent modern-day Eternal Warrior mythos, and in so doing, marks one element I very much enjoy: a shaman-type character, or “geomancer” as he is called, named Buck McHenry. We get a bit of his shared backstory with Gilad here, which basically places the earthy wizard as Watcher to Gilad’s Slayer; definitely a cool twist in the story, and their bristly interplay hints at greater character moments to come.
Speaking of which, I continue to really enjoy the turmoil Pak sets up here within his main character, not only weighing his responsibilities as father, protector of the earth and aspiring all around good guy, but also managing his savage bloodlust with an equally unquenchable desire to aim it at the right (or, more accurately, wrong) people.
The writing is especially captivating this issue, chiefly in Gilad’s inner dialogue and the cryptic prophesying from the shaman. Some of the lines are straight-up poetic, delivered with a grizzly, morbid tenor that beats with the deadly urgency of an infected wound. It’s great, grave stuff, and something tells me the voice he has chosen will continue to evolve along with the story.
My only real worry is that this is going to slowly decant into your classic “immortal fighter” mould. And look, I loves me some Valiant, but doesn’t it already have one or two of those types of guys rocking around right now? I do trust Pak, though, and really it’s too early to judge where this will go; I just hope it’s somewhere I’m not expecting.
In terms of art, when Hairsine takes his time, it’s hugely obvious, and equally stunning. When he has Gilad attack a group of “blue coat” soldiers, in the process of saving a young Native American family, he sets his art apart in a phenomenally brutal scene with astounding detail and impact. In fact, the part of the story set in the late-19th Century American West is beautifully manicured in its rustic, almost painted style.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t last throughout the entirety of the story, by which I mean the present scenes between Gilad, his daughter and her shadow-clad pursuer, making the art as a whole somewhat inconsistent for me. I continue to have a problem with how dark his colors are, as well - at least in my digital review copy. I understand that this is not a bright and cheerful story, but its thick, troweled-on use of shadows hinders the art that much more and subtly hints at a rushed cover-up job, whether it was or not.
If Hairsine can maintain the visual approach he employs on the bloody plains - one panel of which expertly, and quite apocalyptically, plays with shadow and light to great effect - then his direction would feel much more solid and garner him even more praise, for which he is undoubtedly worthy.
Whether I should or not, I’m holding this title to a high bar because of the creative team and publisher, and for the most part, Eternal Warrior has reached it. So long as this one steers clear of well-worn tropes, I’ll be sticking around to see it play through to the end.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Trevor Hairsine Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/9/13